CLONLARA’s Grace O’Connell was left with happy tears with an acknowledgement from her hero, Irish women’s captain Katie McCabe.

For her ninth birthday, Grace was due to watch her favourite women’s player, Katie McCabe line out for Arsenal against Aston Villa.

Plans for the O’Connell family to go to Emirates Stadium came asunder when fog curtailed flights from Shannon Airport on this particular Sunday morning, a fortnight ago.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Grace’s father Barry explained that he, his wife Nicole and their two children, Grace and Luke are staunch Arsenal supporters.

In advance of Grace’s birthday, the family began organising the trip in September. While they were waiting to board their flight to Stanstead they were informed that the fog led to its cancellation. “So obviously Grace got very upset, she was balling god bless her and she had made a little sign for Katie McCabe,” Barry recounted.

He added, “the whole airport was going mad, because all of the flights were being cancelled, so we were kind of the lucky ones that we were going over and back the same day and there was an NFL game on in London on the same day and there was a load of lads there stranded, so it was just a chaotic morning”.

When they returned to their home in Clonlara, Barry was keen to lift the family mood and asked Grace a third year pupil at St. Senan’s Primary School for the sign she designed. “I didn’t know what else to do really to put a smile on her face so I just said screw it, I’ll post it up on Twitter and tag Arsenal and Katie and hope that someone might like it or retweet it or something”.

“My wife and I decided to bring the kids into go bowling in Limerick to try take our mind off stuff so on the way in the car my phone started going a bit mad so I was kind of like what the hell is going on, and by the time we stopped up, my phone had gone chaotic, and I was getting messages and whatever else. So, I checked Twitter then and obviously saw that Katie had reached out which was cool of her, and mentioned she’d sort tickets the next time we go over,” O’Connell said.

McCabe a nominee for the Women’s Ballon d’Or this year in her tweet managed to successfully the spirits of the whole family, “Sorry to hear you can’t make it! Let me know when you’re next over and I’ll arrange tickets! ps. love the sign,” the Irish captain tweeted.

This response was only something Grace could have dreamt of, “I like Katie because she is the captain of Ireland, she plays for my favourite team, and she is probably my favourite out of the women’s team. I almost cried happy tears because something like that has never happened to me before,” she told The Clare Echo.

Barry who works as a Telestrator Operative for Nemeton TV for their live GAA games on TG4 and for American Football data company, PFF said he has yet to make contact with Katie on her offer. “I haven’t reached out to Katie yet or anything, but I’m sure she’d be a girl of her word, but either we’ll go back again anyway, we’re Arsenal fans, but I’d promise Grace and Luke that we’d go over this season and we’ll try our best to go back again”.

He concluded, “They play only I think five times this season, and the next time is just before Christmas, which is probably just a bit too close, but after Christmas they’re playing Man United and Tottenham, so it would be nice to get to the Emirates for a North London derby, and Katie scored two goals as well at the weekend so fair play to her, so it’s only making Grace more determined to go and see her, so that’s the plan”.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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